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Input Needed on Draft U.S. Public Participation Playbook

The White House’s Open Gov Initiative announced on Tuesday that it is opening up a draft “Public Participation Playbook” for edits, additions and comments.

A team across the government is now working side-by-side with civil society organizations to deliver the first U.S. Public Participation Playbook, dedicated to providing best practices for how agencies can better design public participation programs, and suggested performance metrics for evaluating their effectiveness.

I encourage NCDD and IAP2 members to add their input to the draft Playbook asap, as submissions must be made before December 17th. I’ve been assured that this is very much a draft document — not something that is being simply displayed for comment after decisions have been made.

The Playbook has been posted to Madison, an open source tool created by the OpenGov Foundation to help people collaboratively craft legislation. The OpenGov Foundation’s director, Seamus Kraft, is a supporting member of NCDD.

To participate, go to:


“The playbook is not limited to digital participation, and is designed to address needs from the full spectrum of public participation programs,” wrote Corinna Zarek, senior adviser for open government for the U.S. chief technology officer, and Justin Herman, the SocialGov lead for the General Services Administration who is also managing the U.S. Public Participation Playbook project.

Yet the current draft is certainly heavy on examples and language relevant to digital tools, platforms, and strategies for public participation. It clearly needs some TLC from the face-to-face public participation experts who are involved in NCDD and IAP2 — as well as further input from those of you who focus on online engagement.

What is a playbook, you ask? Check out the Digital Services Playbook for an example. Playbooks are compilations of best practices (or “plays”) that government agencies can borrow from and help guide their efforts. In this playbook, extra emphasis is given to performance metrics for public participation. The playbook “reflects the best ideas and examples for agencies to use in developing and implementing their programs with public participation in mind.”

A formal version of the initial playbook is expected to be released for piloting by agencies by January 2015.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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